Method: Sous Vide, Stovetop or GrillJump to Recipe
Florentine steak, Florentine Beefsteak or Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, as it is often called, is a famous Tuscan dish. Authentic Bistecca Alla Fiorentina consists of a thick cut porterhouse from the Tuscan Chianina cattle breed. The steak is simply seasoned and cooked over high heat for a few minutes per side. Often the steak is eaten with a nice char on the outside while the center remains warm but rare. In our version we use a sous vide to cook the thick steak evenly, before searing it in a hot cast iron pan to finish it off.
Preparing the Florentine Style Porterhouse
Selecting your steak
This is a simple but elegant dish so you want to select a high quality steak for this. We do not have easy access to Chianina cattle here in the United States, however, so we elected to use a thick cut Akaushi beef porterhouse from Upper Cut in Liberty, MO. Akaushi cattle are one of the 4 Japanese Wagyu breeds. Above all we love the marbling and taste of this breed, and we figured it would be the perfect beef for this elegant dish. Feel free to use your favorite, but pick a well marbled steak. We recommend using at least prime grade for this Florentine Style Porterhouse. If you have access to dry aged beef it is also wonderful when prepared this way.
What is a Porterhouse?
Porterhouse is the traditional cut used for Bistecca Alla Fiorentina. Porterhouse is cut from the short loin, and contains a tenderloin and strip steak. It is similar to a t-bone steak, however, it is cut from the back section of the short loin, so that it has a much larger tenderloin section.
Remember that this is a shared dish, so go big or go home. Start by selecting a steak that is at least 1.5 inches thick. In Italy the steaks are typically measured in fingers, and thus a 2-3 finger thick steak is the way to go with this dish. The beauty of sous vide is that even thick cuts are cooked through perfectly.
Seasoning the Florentine Style Steak
This dish is very simply seasoned, because you really want the beef to be the star of this dish. As a result, a little salt, pepper, olive oil, and fresh rosemary is all you will need.
First, pat the steak dry then lightly brush both sides of the steak with a little olive oil.
Next, liberally season both sides of the steak with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. The thicker the steak, the more heavy handed you can be with the salt and pepper. Top with a few sprigs of rosemary.
Next, place in a sous vide or vacuum seal bag, and seal the steak up.
Sous vide the steak
Prepare your sous vide, and heat your water bath to 126 degrees. You can read more about sous vide in our Tools of the Trade section. For this sous vide porterhouse recipe we are using our Anova Nano sous vide cooker. Place the sealed bag with the steak in the sous vide water bath, making certain it is fully submerged. Cook the steak for 2 hours.
If you are looking for more great steak recipe ideas using sous vide, then be sure to check out our Reverse Seared Teres Major with His and Her Sauces. For a more traditionally cooked steak take a look at our recipe for Filet Mignon with Goat Cheese Sauce and Grand Marnier Sautéed Peppers.
At the end of 2 hours remove the steak from the water bath and remove from the vacuum sealed bag.
Searing and finishing the Florentine Style Porterhouse
Selecting the right oil or fat
To finish off the steak you want to give it a good sear. This is best achieved in a screaming hot cast iron pan with a thin layer of fat or oil. For this version we used beef tallow. Beef tallow has a high smoke point (400 degrees) and adds a nice "dry-aged" flavor to the beefsteak. If using an oil, select one this a high smoke point like avocado oil (520 degrees), Safflower Oil (510 degrees), or peanut oil (450 degrees). Another great choice for searing steaks is clarified butter or ghee. Avoid oils or fats with low smoke points like olive oil or butter.
Smoke point chart for common oils and fats
|Oil/Fat||Smoke Point ºF||Smoke Point °C|
|Refined Avocado Oil||520ºF||270°C|
|Ghee or Clarified Butter||450ºF||232ºC|
|Unrefined or Virgin Avocado Oil||375ºF||190ºC|
|Pork Fat or Lard||370ºF||188ºC|
|Extra Virgin or Unrefined Coconut Oil||350ºF||177ºC|
|Extra Virgin Olive Oil||325-375ºF||163-190ºC|
Searing the meat
Place just enough oil or fat in a cast iron pan, to cover the bottom of the pan. Heat over high heat. Make sure your hood is on because this will produce a lot of smoke once you start cooking. If you are worried about the smoke produced you can also sear the steak on a very hot grill.
Toss the rosemary sprigs in the hot oil and cook for about 30 seconds to infuse a little more flavor into the oil. Remove and discard or save for plating if you wish.
Place the steak in the pan and sear for about 45-90 seconds per side. Consider wearing heat resistant gloves or over mitts to avoid burning yourself if the oil splatters.
You want a nice hard char on the outside. The steak pictured below cooked for about 45 seconds per side and could have benefitted by going a little longer, but it was on the thin side for this recipe and we wanted to avoid overcooking it. Thicker steaks are far less likely to overcook so give it at least a minute per side and see how the crust looks.
To serve the Florentine Style Porterhouse, season the steak with a little fine, course sea salt and cut into slices.
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Sous Vide Florentine Style Porterhouse
- Sous vide
- Cast Iron Pan
- 1 1.5-3 Inch Thick Porterhouse Steak
- 2 Sprigs Rosemary
- 2 Tab Beef Tallow or Avocado Oil or other oil with a high smoke point
- Salt and Pepper
- Pat the steak dry and brush with olive oil.
- Liberally season both sides of the steak with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. The thicker the steak, the more heavy handed you can be with the salt and pepper. Top with a few sprigs of rosemary.
- Place in a sous vide or vacuum seal bag and seal.
- Heat the sous vide water bath to 126 degrees. Sous vide the steak for 2 hours.
- Remove from the sous vide bag. Heat a cast iron pan with just enough oil or fat to just cover the bottom of the pan. Use an oil with a high smoke temp. Heat over high heat.
- Sear the steak for 45-90 seconds per side until a nice crust has formed on the outside of the steak. Remove to a cutting board and let rest for about 5 minutes. Cut the steak into slices and serve.